Monday, February 1st, 2016 from 6 – 9 pm at Global Exchange
2017 Mission Street near 16th Street BART
Information, discussion & community! Monday Night Forum!!
Occupy Forum is an opportunity for open and respectful dialogue
on all sides of these critically important issues!
Apology to a Whale
Cecile Pineda has the nerve to ask the one simple question that eludes our public posturing and computations. It is the one questions that could save us: What has happened to our mind that we are killing the world? What is it, at the root of our culture, that sets us against the rest of creation? Pineda’s writings pierce us with heartache for what we have lost, yet invite us to examine the imprisoning structures we embrace.
Pineda calls on us to recognize that our view of nature as a resource for convenience and profit is killing the planet. She calls on us to build our lives and our laws around the need to revere and protect the living earth and all its creatures. If the first step towards a cure is a proper diagnosis, Pineda moves us much closer to finding the cure for a culture that is killing the planet.
Cecile returns to OccupyForum this Monday evening to read from her book Apology to a Whale and lead a discussion about what humans have done to the planet, and how we can address it in our time.
Q&A and Announcements will follow. Donations to OccupyForum to cover our costs are encouraged; no one turned away!
On a frigid January morning, a tour through Portland’s Dignity Village follows the same path its residents are required to travel. All were, or are, homeless.
Newcomers to this homeless refuge huddle in the warming station, a small portable with photos of smiling former residents and where they are required to stay during a 60-day probationary period.
They hope to graduate to a small makeshift home like Karen, a three-month resident whose boisterous laugh carries through the village.
Should it become a permanent home, they may find themselves in the position of Rick Proudfoot, a longtime resident who works in the site’s main office, keeping track of finances.
If they’re really lucky, they may end up like Lisa Larson, Dignity Village’s CEO.
“There’s a real sense of pride here, a real sense of community that you don’t find elsewhere.”
A peppy forty-something, she’s lived at Dignity Village the last six years after falling into homelessness to escape an abusive husband. She initially thought she’d stay no more than a few months. Today, Larson, who has been in her position for a year, can’t imagine living anywhere else.
“There’s a real sense of pride here, a real sense of community that you don’t find elsewhere,” she says.
Called an “intentional community” by its members and a homeless encampment by outsiders, Dignity Village is a step toward curbing Portland’s skyrocketing homeless population.
Located in northeast Portland, Dignity Village is a self-governed gated community, which currently serves 60 people on any given night—the city limits the number—and provides shelter in the form of tiny houses built mainly from donated and recycled materials.
Dignity Village housing structures built mainly from recycled material by residents.
The village emerged in the winter of 2000 as a tent city called Camp Dignity. Stationed in downtown Portland, it served as an act of protest against Portland’s then-ban on homeless encampments.
But it moved. After more than a year of public controversy, the city sanctioned a permanent campsite on Sunderland Yard, city-owned land six miles west of the Portland International Airport.
The village has resided on this site since 2004, when advocates and officials reached a compromise on a location after contentious negotiations, but there are no more tents.
Now officially a nonprofit, Dignity Village is governed by a democratically elected council of nine residents, who are responsible for day-to-day decisions; all residents can vote on big decisions, like whether to remove a resident or enter into contracts with service providers, in town hall-style meetings. On a typical night, it provides food, housing, bathrooms, and a mailing address for nearly 60 adults,who pay $35 a month in rent and would otherwise be taking their chances alone sleeping on park benches or city streets.
This is why community may be Dignity Village’s most essential offering.
“It’s really what sets people apart from other homeless shelters and encampments, above all else,” says Katie Mays, who works as a social worker at Dignity Village three days a week.
Dignity Village CEO Lisa Larson with village newbies in the warming station.
The village’s five rules help cultivate that sense of community: no violence, no theft, no alcohol or drugs within a one-block radius, no constant disruptive behavior, and all residents must contribute at least 10 hours per week of work for village upkeep.
No children are allowed at the village because background checks are not a requirement to stay there. Larson says this allows the village to avoid any problems that could arise if any resident, also known as a “villager,” were a registered sex offender or had a violent criminal history.
The city has its own problems with pervasive homelessness. The issue prompted Mayor Ed Murray to deliver a rare televised address on Tuesday. Moments before he went on air, two people were killed and three others wounded in a shooting at a homeless encampment in the city’s Sodo district.
Murray recently met with Portland Mayor Charlie Hales to discuss how their cities are grappling with homelessness. On Tuesday, he called on the city council to provide an additional $49 million to increase services for Seattle’s roughly 3,000 homeless, which would include additional campsites. The city already spent $50 million on homelessness last year, the most in its history.
It is one of the best (and cheapest) bets to curb homelessness, at least for now.
Elsewhere, cities are trying out the model of Dignity Village. In Eugene, Oregon, Opportunity Village has lifted the concept wholesale. Like Dignity Village, it is mostly self-governed, its residents are required to adhere to the same five rules, and tiny homes dot its landscape.
“We didn’t feel it was necessary to reinvent the wheel,” says Andrew Heben, project director for Square One Villages, which partially funds the Eugene development.
Heben, whose book Tent City Urbanism frequently cites Dignity Village as a model for sustainable housing for the homeless, says there are a few key differences between the two, pointing to one in particular: Dignity Village allows its residents to be members of their nonprofit entity, which can lead to logistical challenges.
“Since many residents eventually transition out of there, that means new people can completely undo rules that others have put in place,” says Heben.
In contrast, Opportunity Village is overseen by a separate board consisting of residents, clergy, and other community members.
Dignity Village’s influence also has spread to Nashville, where a micro-housing community called Sanctuary has cropped up. In a recent Al-Jazeera report, residents said Sanctuary provides them with “dignity, security, and a place to plot their futures.”
What the residents of these communities hold in common are the bonds forged from shared experience—of finally finding a welcome environment after being discarded and stigmatized by larger society.
From abusive home to nurturing community: Lisa Larson
Lisa Larson can easily recall the day she first became homeless. The event shares an anniversary with her decision to finally leave an abusive husband after years of emotional and physical turmoil.
Larson spent two years camping out on concrete sidewalks and inside abandoned buildings.
She and her current husband, Scott Larson, discovered Dignity Village while serving time in a Milwaukie, Oregon, jail for chronically violating the city’s ban against homeless camping.
Another homeless person there spoke about a place where people not only were treated with respect, but were instilled with a sense of pride and community.
With curiosity sparked, Larson arrived at the village six years ago, thinking she’d stay no more than six months. Today, she is the village’s chief executive officer, functioning as its official spokesperson.
“When I first came here, I felt like a nobody. With my new husband and Dignity Village, I am somebody. I am a domestic violence survivor. Without this place, I don’t know where or what I’d be,” she says.
Now certain of both, Larson has found not just shelter but peace and purpose that until six years ago eluded her.
The homeless population in Portland has steadily increased since 2007 even while national rates have dropped by 11 percent during the same period. The Oregonian has characterized it as a problem “spinning out of control.”
The city estimates that 4,000 men, women, and children are without shelter most nights in Multnomah County. The image of people emerging from tents and napping on benches is often the first one to greet visitors outside the city’s train station.
Although city and county officials have recently pledged more than $30 million to combat homelessness, the situation persists.
“We’re victims of our own success,” says Josh Alpert, chief of staff to Hales.
Alpert says Portland’s problems stem from three major issues: housing demand that exceeds supply; rising rent prices in response to an influx of new residents; and a lack of financial resources to dedicate to the homeless population.
The city has at least 17 dedicated shelters for the homeless. One of its newest, the eight-story Bud Clark Commons, was built by the city inJune 2011 and houses about 150 people. It cost taxpayers $47 million, a price tag that continues to anger some residents and business owners.
Portland’s city council recently approved $1 million for a new shelter.
The dilemma has forced city officials to consider new approaches and revisit old ones that have proved successful.
Residents walk through the village on a cold day.
One has been its partnership with Dignity Village, which began three years after the village officially became a nonprofit in December 2001. Today the collaboration is all the more attractive to a cash-strapped city budget: The village’s annual operations amount to just $27,750.
Besides granting public land, the city provides funding for a dedicated social worker, Mays, to help members with job searches, resume writing, and transportation to medical and counseling appointments. Mays also functions as a liaison to the city.
Dealings between Dignity Village and the city haven’t always been smooth.
“We’ve been in a constant state of anxiety with the city,” says Proudfoot.
The city has imposed rules, such as the two-year limit on how long a resident can stay, for example. And, Proudfoot says, there’s always the possibility that the city could reclaim the village’s land.
Many Dignity Village members would prefer no interaction with the city, Proudfoot says, because they find its system too bureaucratic and hard to navigate, which they blame for leaving many of them to sleep on the pavement prior to become villagers.
But they view the city’s involvement as necessary to reach their goal of owning land where members can build permanent settlements, not just tents and make-do tiny homes.
Officials, meanwhile, view the village as transitional housing, wanting people to stay there only as long as it takes them to find permanent residences. The city instituted its two-year maximum stay as part of the partnership (Larson estimates the average member’s stay is between 24 and 36 months), something the city has been unable to enforce.
“The problem is there’s no housing for people to go to, and the city doesn’t have another plan,” says Proudfoot.
Portland’s current affordable housing shortage is estimated at about 42,720 units. When subsidized units do come available, people most often are required to compete in a lottery for them. The shortage also extends to rental units, prices for which have risen at the sixth fastest rate in the nation. When rentals do come on the market, they’re often snatched up by the highest bidder, a predicament that has sent much of the city’s working poor scurrying for places to live.
Alpert says the city is attempting to try some innovative ideas, including replicating the village, because it is one of the best (and cheapest) bets to curb homelessness, at least for now.
One of Dignity Village’s tiny housing structures.
“Dignity Village sits well with what the city is attempting to do. We’ve had 15 years to study it,” says Alpert.
As other cities look to Dignity Village, Alpert has some advice: Be mindful of location.
“A lot of infrastructure goes with being homeless,” he points out. He notes a problem with creating another Dignity Village is trying to find land close to social services and public transportation for its population.
From unemployment to CEO: Rick Proudfoot
Rick Proudfoot’s road to Dignity Village is a familiar one for many people who fell into homelessness during the nation’s 2008 financial crisis.
Proudfoot, an electrician, became a casualty of an economic collapse that saw millions lose homes, jobs, and accumulated wealth.
Unable to find work in the midst of it all, he fell into poverty after burning through his savings. He couldn’t afford the rent on his apartment across the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington, so he took to sleeping in city parks, where getting caught meant a fine of $300 or a 30-day stint in jail.
Arriving in Dignity Village in 2008, he quickly established himself as a person who wouldn’t spare his fellow villagers his unfiltered opinion. But his personality was endearing enough that he served as Dignity Village’s CEO for two years and now works as an administrator keeping track of its finances.
While he has left and returned to the village several times, he will always feel an attachment to it, which is why he wants to be the architect of its future.
One day, he says, the village will be a truly intentional community: completely self-governed, self-managed, and self-funded by and for its residents.
Proudfoot, for one, hopes that in time the village will become known for more than just its tiny homes.
“We built [the tiny homes] in hopes of being able to put them on a flatbed one day and move them to land of our own,” he says.
Meanwhile, the village continues to save money—about $2,000 so far—to build larger and more permanent structures on a site not owned by the city. And members look forward to the day when a tour of Dignity Village will take place on land collectively owned by its residents. They’d have another word for it.
Note from Mike Zint:
Housing of any type is better than exposure. Being given a choice between shelter or my own personal space, I choose my own space. Sustainable homeless communities should be in every city. Tents to start, followed by tiny home construction is the solution. The amount of money is much less to give them housing. Tiny homes of their own takes the greedy landlord out of the equation. Affordable housing is not likely in this profit before people system we live in. But profit is no excuse to torture the poor.
The solutions will never change. All people should matter, not just the rich.
J 30, Saturday, 11:00am, March To Super Bowl City, A Grand Opening Protest
333 Post St.
Saturday January 30, 2016 is the grand opening of Mayor Lee’s Super Bowl City. He has spent all of his energy pushing out the homeless, disabling bus lines and creating traffic jams so that his precious Super Bowl City can inconvenience the city of San Francisco for two weeks.
This is energy he could have spent apologizing to Mario Woods’ family, seeking justice and acting like he actually cares about the black and brown community in San Francisco.
F 6, Saturday, 12:30pm, Welcome to the Bay Area – Remix!
SFO International Airport
Meet at the International terminal below the BART fare gates.
Be on time, we may move around the airport.
WELCOME TO THE BAY!!
If you missed our Welcome to the Bay Event during #96 hours – join us for the REMIX. As thousands stream into the Bay Area for the Superbowl, let’s welcome them to the Bay Area that is killing Black, Brown and poor people with impunity and pushing us out of our native cities.
We are asking you to bring your energy and passion to SFO on a very busy travel day! It is crucial that we continue to raise the realities of Amerikkka – particularly on a weekend where the Bay Area is expecting to make millions while pushing out the homeless and increasing the numbers of cops on the streets.
F 7, Sunday, 1:00pm, OccUniPy Super Bowl 50 – Encircle Unite Occupy Super Bowl 50
Levi’s Stadium 4900 Marie P. DeBartolo Way Santa Clara
The time is now to take action and tell the world we are ready to transform our society to be in balance and function to support All people, not just the 0.0001%
We are calling all willing and able citizens of the world to come to Santa Clara on February 7th, 2016 to create a HUGE “pouris” Circle of people around Levi’s Stadium where the Super Bowl will be and the World will be watching.
We are planning to get 10,000 people from all walks of life including families and children to come out and create this circle of Peace around the Super Bowl.
Our goal is to make a Porus circle that people and attendees can easily pass through but that is visible from the blimp came
This morning, a video posted on Facebook purportedly shows a clean-up crew from the Department of Public Works dismantling the homeless tent encampment on San Bruno Avenue. Jordan Buck, who posted the video, noted, “Everyone in the encampment on Division/13th is packing up their shit right now, they must have been threatened already.”
(SF Weekly contacted DPW for comment and will update the story if we get a response.)
The ever-growing tent cities have garnered much media attention (for example) and local hand-wringing lately, most recently from Supervisor Scott Wiener, who sent a letter to the heads of six city agencies calling for the tents to “go away.” (The timing of Wiener’s letter, just weeks before the Super Bowl with its hordes of camera-toting tourists and national news crews, is surely coincidental.)
“It’s not an acceptable state of affairs and we need to put an end to it in a very humane way,” Wiener wrote, prompting outrage from homeless advocates.
One of those advocates is Shaun Osburn, a graphic designer and former communications associate at St. Anthony Foundation.
“Wiener’s letter was very disingenuous,” Osburn says. “He knows that for every shelter bed in San Francisco, there are five homeless people. I’m not buying for a second that he is unaware of that.”
Osburn and a few of his friends, all of whom work in social services or have benefited from such agencies, watched in dismay as the 1,300 additional shelter beds the city promised to make available during El Niño never materialized — at least not in those numbers.
So, like any activist in the digital age, Osburn turned to crowdfunding. This morning, he launched a GoFundMe campaign, seeking $2,000 to buy and distribute tents for the city’s homeless. (He’d raised $135 at time of publication.)
Poor people make for such terrible B-Roll, you know. Under the marching orders of City Hall, the San Francisco Department of Public Works has begun confiscating the tents of homeless residents right before El Niño hits with another series of storms, leaving our vulnerable neighbors exposed to the elements. It is our hope to crowdfund replacement tents for the individuals who have lost their homes due to the heartless actions of local government. With some 3-4 person tents costing anywhere from $15-$20, it is our hope that we can replace 100 of these confiscated tents before the worst of the storms hit.
Osburn, who lives on 16th Street, says he’s watched DPW confiscate sleeping people’s belongings. Asked whether he worries that clean-up crews will also confiscate the new tents he distributes, he says, “No. It’s my property at that point, and I’m choosing to give it to someone.”
Temporary shelter is one thing, but Osburn wants City Hall to take responsibility for the impromptu encampments cropping up beneath overpasses. More shelter beds and 25 percent more below-market-rate housing on-site in new developments would be a “reasonable alternative,” he says.
Osburn’s pro-tent intervention is an unusual departure from many Mission and SoMa residents, who’ve watched the encampment with uneasiness — if not outright hostility.
“13th and Division was a safe space for a minute,” Osburn says. “It’s a part of town that’s traditionally been overlooked, and I think the homeless concentrated there because of safety in numbers. I agree that people shouldn’t be living in tents on the street, but that’s what we have, and the city is failing to offer a reasonable alternative.”
Update: DPW spokeswoman Rachel Gordon tells SF Weekly that this morning’s clean-up was “routine,” and that “no tents were taken down.” According to her, DPW has performed regular clean-ups in hotspots around the city since January 2014. Needles, rotting food, and other debris are cleared, and pavements are steam-cleaned to remove urine and feces. “I know people are paying a lot of attention to these areas,” Gordon says, “but for DPW it’s just business as usual in terms of cleaning.”
Note from Mike Zint:
San Francisco homeless have known for years the city has no interest in helping them. The mayor says the homeless must leave for the super bowl. The promised beds never materialized. The affordable housing is a myth. So when tents are all that is left, the city will steal them to expose the homeless to the elements.
This is calculated. Torture them and they will leave. Wake them up almost every night to make them move. Sometimes the homeless get woken several times a night. Drive them insane. Use their sleep deprived insanity against them.
All the residents of these tents want is to be left alone. They want stability and security. They want to stop carrying everything they own everywhere they go. Why do they have to ask to shelter themselves?
Common sense solutions exist. But there is no profit in free. As long as profit dictates all, the poor will never count.
In cooperation with our longstanding partner Crowdrise, The Huffington Post is celebrating its 10 year anniversary by focusing on the promise of the next 10 years. We’re highlighting causes that are near and dear to our ethos — causes where we believe meaningful progress can be made in the coming decade — and empowering readers to act and take part. Join us!
Put the homeless in homes. Now.
It’s a radically simple solution to the American homelessness crisis that boasts two big advantages: It happens to work, and it’s the type of rare idea that appeals to both sides of the political spectrum.
Case in point: Utah, one of the most conservative states in the nation. Officials there announced on April 28 that there were so few chronically homelessness people left in the state that they knew each one by name. New Orleans says ithoused all of its homeless veterans earlier this year, and Phoenix and Salt Lake City say they’re on the verge of doing the same. Smaller cities like Binghamton, New York, have also made sure that all their military vets are housed.
From 2005 to 2013 — despite a recession, a rising unemployment rate, skyrocketing income inequality and a foreclosure crisis — the overall number of chronically homeless people in the United States dipped 53 percent. It’s largely because of an approach called “housing first,” which President George W. Bush embraced in 2005 to fight chronic homelessness. The policy has been implemented piecemeal across the country ever since.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines chronic homelessness as an “individual or family with a disabling condition who has been continuously homeless for a year or more or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.” This subgroup of the homeless population often struggles more than any other with substance abuse and mental health problems.
The goal of the housing first strategy is to find living accommodations for this group quickly, by negotiating affordable housing with landlords, giving out rental subsidies and providing counseling. Once they’re housed, advocates say, the chronically homeless are significantly less likely to end up in jail or in the hospital, where their stays can cost thousands of dollars.
For every homeless person placed in such housing, a 2013 study of New York found, taxpayers saved a net average of $10,100 per year. Other studies have drawn similar conclusions, helping disprove the long-held theory that simply giving the homeless homes would be a waste of money.
“Solving homelessness is not only doable, but it’s the humane thing to do — and as it turns out, it’s cost-effective,” said Bobby Watts, director at New York’s Care for the Homeless.
In 2009, after allocating $1.5 billion of his stimulus package to the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, President Barack Obama announced a series of ambitious housing first goals: end chronic homelessness and veteran homelessness by 2015, and end homelessness for families, children and youth by 2020. These targets were perhaps unrealistically ambitious, especially in cities with a large population and a dearth of affordable housing, like New York and Los Angeles.
But Jennifer Ho, senior adviser to the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, believes that success in a place like New Orleans is not only encouraging, but also replicable on a national scale. “If you decide that it’s unacceptable that any veteran should be homeless, you can mobilize a community to do something.” she said.
Watts, of Care for the Homeless, agrees. He pointed to the rise in homelessness in the 1980s after the federal government cut the budget for affordable housing.
“Public policy created homelessness,” he said. “And public policy can fix it.”
Note from Mike Zint:
Affordable housing in a system based on profit is a contradiction. In the SF bay area, affordable housing is almost gone. These cities have no intention of helping the homeless. San Francisco is driving the homeless out of town for the big party at the waterfront. There is no place for poverty here. Instead, $4500 for a closet is luxury living.
There are six homes for every homeless person in our country. Poverty is on the rise. Illegal evictions continue. Who is going to afford these vacant homes?
At some point the people will all be impoverished slaves to the system. The class divide is already huge. And slaves is all the elite want. Good slaves that work three jobs to make ends meet is where we are. If things don’t change, only the elite will have housing.
Concepción Picciotto (née Martín c. 1935 – January 25, 2016) also known as Conchita or Connie, was an American peace activist. She lived in Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C. on the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, in a peace camp across from the White House, from August 1, 1981, inprotest of nuclear arms until her death. She carried on the longest continuous act of political protest in the United States,with her camp having been nicknamed by her supporters as 1601 Pennsylvania Avenue.
All known events / meetings around Super Bowl are grouped together (after other announcements). Many actions are being refined and new actions are forming. New video by Peter Menchini “The Scoops are Coming” is also provided.
J 28, Thursday 10:00am – 11:00am, Give Us Land or We Aren’t Going Anywhere-Tent City WeSearch Release (PRESS CONFERENCE)
14th & Trainor Streets (Btw. Folsom & Harrison – behind Office Max)
Tent City WeSearch Statement & Demands:
SF Mayor Ed Lie and Supervisor Scott Weiner claim they want “homeless people” to “go away” for the multi-billion dollar plantation sports event called The Superbowl. We the houseless, displaced gentrFUKed, evicted, criminalized, disabled and now living on the streets in Tents, Cardboard motels and tarps are demanding the return of thousands of dollars stolen by “sweeps” of our medicine and belongings as well as open land that we can set up our tents or build our own housing – this would be modeled after the Homefulness project – a poor people-led solution to Homelessness
On the eve of proposed “sweeps” of hundreds of houseless people in San Francisco to make way for the Superbowl Houseless folks release their own data and demands for poor people-led solutions to houselessness-and the retrun of thousands of dollars stolen from them by DPW sweeps
Tent City WeSearch Date and Demands will be released at this emergency press conference held at the locaiton of hundreds of houseless peoples homes.
We invite all organizations and folks to join in to support these demands and stand with us.
SF City Hall, Room 400
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Pl.
2:00pm – Press Conf. (front steps of City Hall)
3:00pm – 5:00pm – Pack the Planning Department Hearing
The “Affordable Housing Density Bonus Program” threatens the future of thousands of residents and small businesses. We must stop this monster and demand actual affordable development without displacement!
The Mayor and City Planning Department are fast tracking a zoning change that undermines existing safeguards in all neighborhoods and promotes the demolition of over 30,500 buildings. They want to build “affordable housing” for people who make $60,000 a year
CCSF Board of Trustees now officially has its full powers! AFT 2121 faculty sent a strong message to Chancellor Lamb on FLEX day about the importance of our contract, now we need to send the same message to the Board. Six months without a fair faculty contract and we are at impasse: No More Business as Usual!
J 28, Thursday, 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Egypt in Transition
Eric Quezada Center for Culture & Politics 518 Valencia St. (nr. 16th Street BART) SF
On the 5th commemoration of the Egyptian revolution, the Arab Resource & Organizing Center is hosting a round table discussion about the trajectory of the Egyptian revolution from its victories, defeats, the role of the political elite, the role of the international and regional powers, and any future possibilities for change
J 28, Thursday, 7:00pm – 8:30pm, Junipero Serra and The Mission System: The Destructive Legacy
The Green Arcade 1680 Market Street San Francisco, CA 94102
Join us as we shed light on the dark history of the man who Pope Francis canonized in 2015. Elias Castillo,author of A Cross of Thorns will be in conversation with noted indigenous author Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.
St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church
2097 Turk St. (at Lyon)
PDA (Progressive Democrats of America – San Francisco) presents a free public forum
Featured speaker BILL HACKWELL is a widely published and exhibited social documentary photographer. Most of his work focuses on social change in the struggle against oppression in the U.S. and abroad. The program will include a panel discussion by several Bay Area activists who recently toured Cuba with CodePink-Women for Peace.
When people see people’s possessions like this, the assumption is homeless people make a mess. The truth is when the police grab you, they make and leave a mess. This mess will remain for hours, causing people to have negative feelings towards homeless. Blaming the homeless has become too easy.
The homeless person not only got locked up, but she lost her stuff to the streets.
From members of the Steering Committee of Save the Berkeley Post Office, with my reply (below):
“I haven’t wanted to go by the post office for some time because of what it has become, but I did so yesterday to see if Mike Zint — who, I believe, promised to remove his tent if Berkeley won its lawsuit to save the building and then didn’t — was still there. Indeed he is, along with a full-scale homeless camp on the steps, under the loggia, and around the corner on Milvia. I don’t know if some of the people there are among those whom Mike invited to come to Berkeley to join his “Liberty City” in front of Old City Hall, but there can be little doubt that the Postal Service real estate division and CBRE could not be happier because the shabby and scary conditions at the post office showcase what happens when an uppity community like ours balks the transfer of public property to private interest. No wonder the Postal Police have been in no hurry to remove the new residents there.”
“I don’t like it either [ ] and voiced objection to an encampment early on- I want housing as shelter for homeless friends, not the post office.”
For approximately fifteen months, the information tent at the Main Berkeley Post Office has been a source of food, clothing, referrals, and more for people – citizens, human beings – who are literally driven from pillar-to-post because they can’t afford housing. Those who reside at the information tent maintain a strict code prohibiting alcohol and harmful drug use. They are unfailingly friendly and their expectation that they be treated respectfully is more-than reasonable.
The loggia of the post office has been used as shelter from the rain by those who have access to no-better shelter for more than a couple of decades, which is about how long I’ve lived in the region. Those who are staying in the information tent are not gatekeepers to the loggia, or any other space at the post office outside the information tent, as they have no power to drive anyone away. In fact, it has been reported that officers of the BPD have at times directed people to the loggia for shelter from the rain.
If anyone is truly “scary” in public, they are subject to involuntary detention by the police. If anyone has experienced a specific incidence of scariness, they can call 9-1-1. But to characterize an anonymous group of people as scary is equivalent to calling any member of a given race “lazy” or “bad drivers” or “cheap”, to calling those of a given sexual preference “deviants”, or to calling those of a given gender “irrational”.
To say that what is wanted is “housing as shelter for homeless friends” is not a solution for coping with this very immediate inclement season – probably not for next winter either. In the meantime, from the comfort of our homes, we can continue to say, “why doesn’t somebody do something about this problem?” If something is to be done, and if we are to do more than complain, is it unreasonable to suggest that we get to know those who have been driven to live outdoors, to find out what they think is the best solution, and to combine our energies with theirs so that the effort doesn’t collapse into factions? The information tent at the Main Berkeley Post Office is already a hub for efforts to improve the circumstances of homeless folks, both immediately and long-range. The community is invited to participate.
San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener says the city needs to find a prompt and “humane” way to eliminate tent encampments that house a growing number of homeless people.
The growing presence of tent camps in San Francisco “represents our city’s failure to provide adequate housing/shelter and assistance for those who want help, as well as a failure to make clear to those who refuse help that tents on our sidewalks and in our public spaces are unacceptable” Wiener wrote in a letter last week (embedded below) to the heads of six city agencies.
“These tents are a public safety and a public health problem for the people living in them and for our neighborhoods,” Wiener added in an interview.
His remarks provoked outrage from one of the city’s leading homeless advocates.
“My chin dropped,” said Jennifer Friedenbach, the executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness.
“I thought it was in particular bad taste given how much people are suffering,” Friedenbach said. “He’s talking about ripping those tents from people who have no other choice but to sleep on the street.”
The tents give the homeless cover from the rain, Friedenbach said.
“Taking away people’s tents right now in the middle of these storms, that’s about as mean-spirited as you can get,” she said.
Among other requests, Wiener is asking city agencies for an estimate of how many tents are on the streets and the number of people living in them. While tents have appeared on city streets for decades, city officials say the number has grown in recent years and the onset of this winter’s rains has expanded their presence even more.
In the Mission alone, tent encampments have grown along parts of Division, Cesar Chavez, Vermont, 13th and 16th streets, as well as San Bruno Avenue.
That has increased the visibility of San Francisco’s homeless but does not necessarily mean a large increase in the population of people living on the streets. There were 6,686 homeless people in San Francisco at the beginning of 2015, according to last year’s count. That’s up 250 from two years earlier.
Wiener says he’s not talking about bulldozing the tents. Instead, he wants the city to create a plan to transition homeless people living in tents into shelters or other forms of housing.
“The tents need to go away as part of that process,” he said. “It’s not an acceptable state of affairs and we need to put an end to it in a very humane way.”
Wiener and other city officials say San Francisco needs more facilities like the Navigation Center in the Mission district, a service center that aims to provide homeless people with permanent housing.
It makes sense that homeless people would use tents for cover from the rain, Dodge said, but they can make people living on the street more vulnerable.
“I’ve seen at least four different times where someone burnt out someone else’s tent,” Dodge said. “I’ve heard reports of women living in the streets and being assaulted in their tents.”
In fact, Allison Sparrow, a 33-year-old homeless woman, was an apparent homicide victim in a tent near 16th and Harrison streets on Dec. 18.
City officials say there are beds in shelters that are not always used at night that could serve homeless people now living in tents. There are about 30 to 90 shelter vacancies every night, Dodge said.
But tents provide space for someone’s belongings, where a shelter might not. Many city facilities allow people to bring in only two large bags.
“Shelter works for a lot of people,” Dodge said. “I think we need to really expand options for other people that shelter isn’t working for.”
Note from Mike Zint:
He really needs a big roast this time.
Scott is going to get roasted again. This guy has no clue. The homeless do not want to be forced into filthy, bug infested shelters. The crime mentioned would have taken place without a tent being present. To blame someone’s attempt to get out of the elements for all kinds of bad things is an attempt to demonize and further Scott’s personal vendetta against the homeless.
So, Weiner Roast 4 anyone?
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From Palestine to the US, NO BANS, NO WALLS! The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) will be holding their annual policy conference March 26-28. AIPAC demands billions of dollars and unquestioned support for Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine and crippling siege on Gaza. They oppose the Iran nuclear deal and lobby congress to … Continue reading →
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